Freedom is said to be the birthright of every human being, regardless of who they are or where they come from. In fact, God has fashioned us for freedom, Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:17, “now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
Just as an interesting point of fact, and I do not know if you have ever realized this or not, but wherever you find a free people, you will also find people of biblical faith. Although it is absolutely true that all people have a right to freedom, it is also equally true that you will not find true freedom except where you find the Spirit of the Lord. Whether free people in this country and around the world acknowledge it or not, they (we) owe their (our) freedom to men and women of biblical faith. This Bible is the Magna Charta of the believer. Its truths, its doctrines have snapped our spiritual shackles; for “where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom,” and nowhere else.
I wanted to start with that point of fact, because I think people who reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ should still be made aware of what Christianity has done for them—namely, that in a country like ours, the influence of Christianity has won them the freedoms they enjoy today and often take for granted.
But the freedom, of which this verse speaks of is an infinitely greater and better one. As great as civil or religious liberties are, the freedom of which this verse speaks of far exceeds those freedoms.
There is a freedom which Christians alone enjoy, a freedom that many in this free country do not possess. The free man is the man whom the Truth has made free. “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free… So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free” (John 8:32, 36). He who has grace in his heart is free; he has the right on his side; he has the indwelling Holy Spirit within him; he is a blood bought heir of heaven; he belongs to the King Himself; he is one of God’s elect a chosen children.
That soul which has been set free would prefer to walk in the burning furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego or to be cast into the lion’s den with Daniel, then to yield a point of principle. He is a free man, for “where the Spirit of the Lord Is, there is freedom” in its fullest, highest, and widest sense. Without the “Spirit of the Lord,” in a free country such as ours, you are still a slave; for your soul remains in spiritual bondage.
The text speaks of spiritual freedom. To Christians I say, that only because of the grace of the God, we enjoy this freedom because we have “the Spirit of the Lord” within us, for there was a time when we were slaves. Not that long ago, all of us who are now free in Christ Jesus were slaves of the devil, we were his captives. We boasted that we could do what we pleased, but what a slavish freedom we had. It was nothing more than a fake freedom. We were slaves to our lusts and passions, slaves to sin, but now we are freed from sin, we have been delivered from our tyrant.
Let us now examine this freedom a little more closely. What does our freedom consist of?
We Are Free from the Bondage of Sin
“Truly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin” (John 8:34)
When you think of all the bondage and slavery in the world, there is none more horrible than the bondage of sin. Think of the Israelites in Egypt making bricks with straw, or blacks early in our own nation’s history beneath the lash of a cruel task master. As horrific as they were, the bondage of sin is far worse than those. It is a burden that will sink a soul forever in the depths of everlasting punishment and torment.
“’What a wretched man I am! Who shall deliver me…?” (Rom. 7:24).
But the Christian is free. Listen very closely to what one convert once said, “There is, no sin upon my conscience now; there is no crime upon my breast; I need not walk through the earth fearful of every shadow, and afraid of every man I meet, for sin is washed away; my spirit is no more guilty; it is pure, it is holy; there no longer rests the frown of God upon me; but my Father smiles: I see his eyes—they are glancing love: I hear his voice—it is full of sweetness. I am forgiven, I am forgiven, I am forgiven!
All hail, thou breaker of fetters! Glorious Jesus! Ah! That moment when first the bondage passed away I Methinks I recollect it now. I saw Jesus on his cross before me; I thought on him, and as I mused upon his death and sufferings, I saw him cast a look on me; and when he gazed on me, I looked at him, and said, “Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to thy bosom fly.” And I flew to him and clasped him; and when he let me go again, I wondered where my burden was. It was gone! There, in the sepulcher, it lay, and I felt light as air; like a winged sylph, I could fly over mountains of trouble and despair; and oh! What liberty and joy I had! I could leap with ecstasy for I had much forgiven, and now I was freed from sin.”
If all I do is quote those words to you, the point has been made. Do you understand beloved that it is only because of the grace of God that those who are in Christ can say amen to the words of that convert?
“But now, since you have been set free from sin and have become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification—and the outcome is eternal life” (Rom. 6:22).
And this, my fellow Christian, is but just the first freedom of the child of God.
We Are Freed from the Penalty of Sin
What is it? Eternal death, torment forever, that is the sad penalty of sin. Paul wrote in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Many fail to understand or comprehend the tremendous cost of rejecting the loving Savior who gave His very life to redeem fallen, condemned sinners. They fail to understand that if they die having rejected the Savior, they will go to hell forever. Whether people realize it or not, whether they accept it or not, the penalty of sin is and will remain the bitterest curse of their existence.
Jesus said, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:18). Eternal damnation in a burning lake of fire with billows are ever blazing brimstone is a real place, but fire and brimstone is not what makes it hell. Rather it is the state of being which never ceases to experience absolute and utter hopelessness. It is knowing that the torment, darkness, and suffering experienced in the soul will never diminish or end. It is hearing the screaming cries of all who are there because of the unbearable agony and anguish which you know will never stop. It is living among demons who will continually terrorize your soul. It is knowing that no matter how long you have been there for, it will go on forever. It is the full knowledge of the glorious inheritance of the saints and of their eternal reward in heaven, which they will never experience.
But as a Christian you have been freed from the penalty of sin. You are free at this very moment from the penalty of sin. Not only are you forgiven, but you never can be punished on account of your sins however great they may have been. As Charles H. Spurgeon, the great Baptist preacher, once said in one of his sermons, “The moment a sinner believes, and trusts in his crucified God; his pardon at once he receives, salvation in full through his blood.”
There is no hell for the believer, for he has been justified and cannot be condemned. Jesus has suffered the punishment in your stead, and God would be unjust to punish you, for Christ has suffered once and satisfied justice forever.
When your conscience tells you that you are a sinner deserving of God’s full wrath, remind yourself that you stand in Christ’s place, and Christ stands in yours. Though true that you are a sinner, remember that Christ died for sinners. Though true that you deserve punishment, if your ransom died, God will not ask for the debt twice. He has cancelled the debt.
Heavens pearly gates are already opened to admit you and hells gates are barred forever against you. What glorious freedom is the freedom that the children of God have.
We Are Freed from the Guilt of Sin
Some would argue that this is the wonder of wonders. The Christian is positively not guilty any longer the moment he believes. Let me illustrate, if the president of this country in his goodness spares a murderer by giving him a pardon, that man cannot be punished, but he remains a guilty man since the pardon does not and will not remove his guilt. Even though the law cannot touch him, he will still be guilty
But the Christian is not only delivered from the bondage and penalty of sin, but he is positively absolved from the guilt of sin. You ask, is a Christian no longer a sinner in God’s sight? He is a sinner, but only as considered in himself, but in the person of Christ he is no more a sinner for he has been washed by the precious blood of Lamb and has been made whiter than snow.
“And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has set us free from our sins by his blood” (Rev. 1:5).
“…Though your sins are scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are crimson red, they will be like wool” (Isa. 1:18).
Do you understand how it is that the very guilt of the sinner is taken away? Christ came to save and redeem sinners and to justify sinners He says, I have died in your place, I have paid for your sin, your guilt has been imputed to Me, I have suffered the penalty, you are free from the guilt of sin. The Redeemer places on the justified sinner a glorious robe of perfect righteousness. And now, is there any sin? The sin is on Christ, the righteousness is on believer.
We have been made righteous through the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ and we therefore stand here freed from the guilt of sin. There is not a crime or sin that stands against us, it is blotted out, cancelled forever. Not only can we never be punished, but we have nothing to be punished for. Christ has atoned for our sins, and we have received his perfect righteousness.
We Are Freed from the Dominion of Sin
Sinners glory in what they call “free” living and “free” thinking. The truth is they are slaves, for sin is bondage and slavery
A sinner without grace attempting to reform himself is like a person rolling a rock up hill, which always comes down with greater force. A man without grace attempting to save himself, is engaged in as hopeless a task, for when it is all said and done, said sinner grace is a slave, he cannot deliver himself from his sins and remains under its dominion.
But not so the believer. Is a true-born heir of God a slave? Oh, yes, but not to sin. He does not sin, because he is born of God. He does not live in uncleanness, because he is an heir of immortality and because he loves his Lord. He is free from the power of sin. His work is righteousness, and his end his everlasting life. The believer is free from the dominion of sin.
“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be rendered powerless so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin” (Rom. 6:6).
“But now, since you have been set free from sin and have become enslaved to God…” (Rom. 6:22).
“And having been set free from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness” (Rom. 6:18).
We Are Freed from Fear of the Law
Many people are honest because they are afraid of the consequences of dishonesty. Many are sober because they are afraid of public opinion. Many persons are seemingly religious because of their neighbors
There is much virtue which is like the juice of the grape—you get it because it has first been squeezed out, unlike the generous drop of the honeycomb, distilling willingly and freely. Would I be wrong if I said that the works of a man destitute of the grace of God are only works of slavery? Would they not be works that he feels forced and compelled to do?
As sinners we went to church because we thought we had to do. We prayed because we feared some misfortune would happen if we did not. We thanked God for a mercy because we thought we would not get another if we did not. We performed a good deed with the hope that God would reward us for it. But if we could have stopped doing those things, we likely would have. If we could have had our will and done as we pleased, we would have lived in the world and followed the ways of Satan. As for righteousness, that would have been our bondage, sin would have been our freedom.
But now, my fellow Christian, what is your freedom? What makes you come to church today or bend your knee in prayer? It is because you like to and want to talk with your Father. What causes you to give cheerfully and liberally? It is because you believe in the work of the ministry, in the great commission. It is because you feel blessed by what have been given to you and count it a privilege to give back to Christ. What is it that constrains you to live honest, righteous, and godly lives? It is because you desire to live a life that brings glory to your King.
Some people ask, “Do you mean to say that you as a Christians may live as you like?” I wish I could. If I could live as I liked, I would always be holy, I would always live as I ought to. For the Christian, it is a slavery to him to sin; righteousness is his delight. If I could live as I would, I would live as God commands me. The greatest happiness of a Christian is to be holy. Holiness is his pleasure; sin is his slavery.
The Christian is not under the law, but under grace, we are freed from it that we may obey it more than we ever did before.
We Are Freed from the Fear of Death
If we could take the most powerful telescope in the world and look through the vista and see what was in the future, what do you think we would see? I will tell you what we would see, death fast approaching. Death is coming, and my question to you is, what would follow? Well, that depends upon whether your soul has been set free. If you are a child of God, eternal life in the presence of God; if you are not, hell follows death
Many are enslaved to the fear of death, if fact, most humans fear dying. Who is the person who does not fear to die? He whose soul has been set free, the person who is a believer, a true follower and disciple of Jesus Christ, the person who has fully trusted Him and Him alone for his salvation.
For the child of God, sudden death is sudden glory. So, for even the weakest Christian the prospect of one day parting does not make him tremble. Paul writes, “what, then, are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He did not even spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. How will he not also with him grant us everything? Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies. Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the one who died, but even more, has been raised; he also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: Because of you we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:31-39).
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is taken from The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.
Dr. Miguel J. Gonzalez is the Founder and President of Reasons for Faith International Ministries. He served as a pastor for ten years in Charlotte, NC and has taught in churches and conferences throughout the United States. He currently hosts the Time in the Word and Truth To Live By podcasts and writes at KnowingChristianity.blogspot.com.
Copyright © 2006–2021 by Miguel J. Gonzalez Th.D. and published by Reasons for Faith International Ministries, Inc. by permission. No part may be altered or edited in any way. Permission is granted to use in digital or printed form so long as it is circulated without charge, and in its entirety. This document may not be repackaged in any form for sale or resale. All reproductions must contain the copyright notice (i.e., Copyright © 2006-2021 Miguel J. Gonzalez Th.D.) and this Copyright/Limitations notice.